The first priority for most Americans when choosing a doctor is figuring out whether the provider accepts their insurance.
A new survey of 500 insured Americans by HealthMine shows 63 percent of them say that whether a doctor is part of their health plan is the first question they ask when seeking medical care.
Indeed, most (58 percent) of those surveyed say the way they find a doctor is by browsing through the list of in-network providers, rather than looking for a doctor and then checking later to see if he or she takes their insurance.
Just over a quarter of Americans say they search online for doctors whose specialties meet their specific needs. Granted, there are large swaths of the population that aren’t in need of specialized care and only look up a doctor for an annual physical.
The same survey found Americans are not particularly optimistic about the state of their health or the health care services they depend on.
For starters, 90 percent say their health “could be better.” In light of statistics on obesity, rates of exercise and eating habits, it appears respondents are not pessimists; they are just realists.
The rising cost of health care has become a major issue for the employers and public programs that shoulder most of the cost. As a result, employers and payers have embraced consumer-driven approaches to health care aimed at getting customers to make more informed decisions about their health care and choose between services as they would any other product.
While consumer-driven approaches, such as high deductible health plans, may help reduce the overall spending on health care in the long-run, in the short-term there are many workers who are put in a tough situation where they have to decide between getting care or spending money.
There is strong evidence that the Affordable Care Act has reduced the number of people who are forgoing basic care as a result of cost, but millions of Americans still struggle to cover their health expenses. Studies have shown that many do not have the savings necessary to pay their deductible in the event of a major medical issue.